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9 Mistakes To Avoid With Onsite SEO

Expert advice from Matt Eldridge of Melt Design 9 Mistakes To Avoid With Onsite SEO

Getting your website to the top of a Google search is one of the top priorities for any business website and reaching this enviable position in organic search results gives you the best chance to achieve a higher click-through rate and much better quality leads for the company.

The bad news is anybody worth their salt is competing against you in the same marathon. And with the number of runners rising all the time, opportunities to grab the gold are slighter than ever.

The good news is that although anybody in the race has a chance of winning it, the fact is a mere handful of them have even the most basic requirements needed to reach that result.

As soon as you have a functioning website live and kicking, there are some key errors to avoid making if you want to maximise your chances of turning out a successful SEO campaign:

No sitemap

The sitemap of a website is an integral part of its inner workings - it’s an XML file that records data about the most search engine relevant information on a website, which includes a log of recent updates and page ranking by relevance.

Having this data enables the spider to explore the website more efficiently, improving search engine ranking. While a sitemap may not be a quick fix for instant success, it’s a quick and simple victory and very worthwhile.

Failed canonical domain check

In the event of a domain failing its canonical check, the homepage is probably being accessed via more than one URL.

For example,, and all direct back to the same homepage.

Loading identical content through multiple URLs is a problem, as it causes inbound equity to be divided, wrecking the overall SEO value of the website.

In order to bypass this issue, proper canonical tags must be made. Alternatively, 301 redirects can channel traffic directly to one central location.

Slow load times

The UK’s broadband speeds are improving all the time. However, Google announced several years ago that loading times were covered in its algorithm and that it recognised that slow loading speeds on mobiles and desktop computers was still a problem. Thankfully, Google’s PageSpeed tool allows you to examine any sort of web page and pinpoint factors contributing to poor loading speeds.

Common solutions for this issue also include eliminating render blocking JavaScript and CSS above the fold, leveraging browser caching, optimising images, enabling compression and minifying JavaScript, CSS and HTML (which means removing any unnecessary spaces).

No header tags

Header tags are the bones of web content and a search engine’s first port of call when identifying important parts of a web page.

Tags allow search engines to examine and rank a website’s content by relevance, so improper use of header tags can cross the wires and result in less than efficient searching.

The best way to avoid this problem is to use unique and relevant tags that relate closely to the content, especially keywords. And don’t forget to tag subheadings too, where applicable.

Missing image description

Remember, search engines cannot comprehend images, so it’s particularly important to give them a relevant and detailed descriptive text in the form of an Alt attribute.

This gives search engines a way of reading the images and prioritising them along with text, so make it as descriptive as possible. No one except the search engine will be reading this part, so don’t worry about it sounding stupid - it has a practical purpose.

This means a pair of trainers is a pair of blue and white limited edition Nike running shoes.

Poor metadata

Title tags are similarly important and are often considered a priority for top SEO, probably because it’s the first thing users look at when going through search engine results.

Title tags should be unique and succinct, keyword optimised to the content and with a maximum of 70 characters.

Meta descriptions are also important, as their purpose is to beckon users over to click on a page in the form of ad copy. This is easily created and managed on a reliable CMS system.

Keyword spamming

When creating online content, balancing targeted keywords and readable content is challenging at the very least - too many keywords can make the page look like spam, while too few will leave search engines unsure of what to rank the page for, losing you traffic.

To avoid this problem, it’s wise to use a good variety of targeted variations of the page’s keywords, but don’t make decent content unreadable by making it too keyword rich.

First engage your readers and the spiders will soon follow.

Duplicate content

Duplicating content is one of the most common and costly mistakes in online content. It’s particularly problematic on large sites or ecommerce sites with a multitude of similar product listings.

Duplication is a common issue when filters are applied to listings or when there are many variations of a single product listed on the same site.

Once again, the canonical tag is the saviour with which you can re-route duplicates back to the main page. By doing this, you essentially bundle all your site’s SEO value into one.

The way you name your links

Anchor text is what we call those familiar clickable text links. While the spider crawls a site, it looks at a page’s anchor text to confirm the content and relevance of the pages linked to it.

Don’t miss golden opportunities by using generic anchor text such as ‘click here’, especially when re-routing to internal pages.

Make the text as relevant as you can to help the search engines find it, but take care not to overdo the keywords, as you then risk confusing the ranking on search engines.

About the author

Matt Eldridge is the owner and head web, design and marketing master of Melt Design. He specialises in delivering results driven websites that combine design, clarity, marketing tools and techniques that translate into sales and subscribers.

He has previously worked for Entrepreneurs Circle, running Botti Creative, and now aims to grow Melt Design into one of the most well respected design, web and marketing agencies in the UK.

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